You can tell if it’s your own plan by how lost you feel. People who do their own plans feel lost most of the time. People who do other peoples’ plans feel on track most of the time.

Confessions of a Prep School College Counselor – Magazine – The Atlantic

Certainly, I understood why students who had worked so hard and done so well would want to go to schools like Harvard and Princeton, but many places seem to be prestigious simply because student fads and crazes have made them hard to get into. Brazenly capitalizing on the whims and passions of teenagers seems a questionable practice for institutions dedicated, in part, to the well-being of young people.

Confessions of a Prep School College Counselor – Magazine – The Atlantic

Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits –

Learn in different locations. Mixing related skills in one study session makes them easier to learn. Spread your study sessions and testing/reviews over time for best retention. Highly-focused immersion is not always better than a more eclectic approach. I think the overarching theme here is that making it easier for yourself isn’t always the wisest thing. If you give the brain some variety it will do remarkable job of pulling things together.

Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits –

Adam Phillips on the happiness myth | Books | The Guardian

Happiness and the right to pursue it are sometimes wildly unrealistic as ideals; and, because wildly unrealistic, unconsciously self-destructive.

Interesting essay with some good tidbits. This bit on pathologies could also apply, more mildly, to how we react to differing opinions:

We tend to pathologise the forms of happiness we cannot bear.

And on education:

There are, for example, only two reasons for children to go to school – apart, that is, from acquiring the werewithal to earn a living: to make friends, and to see if they can find something of absorbing interest to themselves.

Adam Phillips on the happiness myth | Books | The Guardian

Art really saved my life because art is how I proved that I wasn’t a malingerer.

Interview with Chuck Close. A long, wonderful discussion of his life and work. Topics include playing to your strengths, supportive parents, taking art classes in a brothel, and much much much more.

Law school was a word I kept lodged at the back of my mouth, like a cyanide tablet, just in case.

Jonathan Rosen, Eve’s Apple. (via Fresher Hells)

Why Do Harvard Kids Head to Wall Street? « The Baseline Scenario

Very interesting article. One good bit:

The typical Harvard undergraduate is someone who: (a) is very good at school; (b) has been very successful by conventional standards for his entire life; © has little or no experience of the “real world” outside of school or school-like settings; (d) feels either the ambition or the duty to have a positive impact on the world (not well defined); and (e) is driven more by fear of not being a success than by a concrete desire to do anything in particular. (Yes, I know this is a stereotype; that’s why I said “typical.”) Their (our) decisions are motivated by two main decision rules: (1) close down as few options as possible; and (2) only do things that increase the possibility of future overachievement.

And another one:

You internalize the rationalizations for the work you are doing. It’s easier to think that underwriting new debt offerings really is saving the world than to think that you are underwriting new debt offerings, because of the money, instead of saving the world. And this goes for many walks of life. It’s easier for college professors to think that, by training the next generation of young minds (or, even more improbably, writing papers on esoteric subjects), they are changing the world than to think that they are teaching and researching instead of changing the world.

Why Do Harvard Kids Head to Wall Street? « The Baseline Scenario

I simply want to celebrate the fact that right near your home, year in and year out, a community college is quietly — and with very little financial encouragement — saving lives and minds. I can’t think of a more efficient, hopeful or egalitarian machine, with the possible exception of the bicycle.

Some wisdom before school starts




“How do you remember Amherst? What are the experiences—in and out of the classroom—that shape those memories? Similarly, what aspects of your Amherst education served you best? And what are the things about Amherst that, in hindsight, disappoint you?”


“I don’t know that many would remember me at all… I was cripplingly shy at Amherst. I wasn’t in a fraternity and didn’t go to parties and didn’t have much to do with the life of the College. I had a few very close friends and that was it. I studied all the time. I mean literally all the time…

So ‘the things about Amherst that, in hindsight, disappoint [me]’ are things not about Amherst but about who I was when I was there. I let almost no one know me, and I lost the chance to know and learn from most of my peers. It took years after I’d graduated from Amherst to realize that people were actually far more complicated and interesting than books, that almost everyone else suffered the same secret fears and inadequacies as I, and that feeling alone and inferior was actually the great valent bond between us all. I wish I’d been smart enough to understand that when I was an adolescent.”

— David Foster Wallace interviewed by Amherst magazine